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Why a Staunch Conservative Like Me Endorsed Obama October 26, 2008

Posted by rogerhollander in Barack Obama, John McCain, Sarah Palin, U.S. Election 2008.
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Ken Adelman, Huffington Post, October 24, 2008

Who cares?

That’s what I wondered when George Packer (ace of the New Yorker) asked whether he could post my intention to vote for Obama on his blog.

So I duly ignored him. Only when he bugged me two days later did I say okay, and responded in quick, instinctive emails back.

Little did I know the splash this would make. Not until a day later, when my wife and I were up in Philadelphia to teach leadership via scenes from Shakespeare’s Henry V for the Wharton Business School. When friends joined us for dinner at UPenn, they said their taxi driver had talked about my “endorsement of Obama,” having read it online during a break.

What’s most fun about unexpectedly “breaking through” on an issue is not feeling powerful, that you’re molding minds out there. People make up their own minds, based on lots more information than my personal inclinations.

Okay, this type announcement can give (maybe a few) conservatives some cover — not publicly to use with others, but privately to assure themselves that it’s actually okay to break away. To break with the most conservative, or Republican, candidate and vote (in my case, the first time ever) for “the other guy.”

And it’s not most fun dealing with longtime friends, fellow conservatives. Most are polite and say they understand, and they’ll get over it. Yet a few do get heated, show their disappointment, and say they can’t understand my taking a public stance (even if I privately stray).

I don’t enjoy those discussions, since I’ve long prided myself in being a staunch conservative.

Not a neo-con, since I was never liberal along the way (having campaigned for Barry Goldwater in 1964, when at that hotbed of lefty politics, Grinnell College). I’m really a con-con.

And not a staunch Republican, as I’ve never been to a Republican rally or convention (I came closest in 1980, after writing Don Rumsfeld’s speech and after we drove there; but I left Detroit before the convention opened).

So I’ve considered myself less of a partisan than an ideologue. I cared about conservative principles, and still do, instead of caring about the GOP.

Granted, McCain’s views are closer to mine than Obama’s. But I’ve learned over this Bush era to value competence along with ideology. Otherwise, our ideology gets discredited, as it has so disastrously over the past eight years.

McCain’s temperament — leading him to bizarre behavior during the week the economic crisis broke — and his judgment — leading him to Wasilla — depressed me into thinking that “our guy” would be a(nother) lousy conservative president. Been there, done that.

I’d rather a competent moderate president. Even at a risk, since Obama lacks lots of executive experience displaying competence (though his presidential campaign has been spot-on). And since his Senate voting record is not moderate, but depressingly liberal. Looming in the background, Pelosi and Reid really scare me.

Nonetheless, I concluded that McCain would not — could not — be a good president. Obama just might be.

That’s become good enough for me — however much of a triumph (as Dr. Johnson said about second marriages) of hope over experience.

Now what’s most fun about the media breakthrough is hearing from gobs of people from previous lives. Many long forgotten, reminding me of long forgotten times together. People emerging suddenly, from the dark matter of time, into the recesses of the brain.

These folks were important at various stages of my life — grammar school playmates, Grinnell classmates, Indianapolis cousins, Dan Quayle, Dick Allen, colleagues from the Reagan arms control agency (chuckling over my quip to Packer that I wouldn’t have hired Sarah Palin to a mid-level job there).

A veritable stroll down memory lane, to see a line of people who have touched my life at various times, in its varied stages, reconnecting in a most unexpected (even bizarre) manner.

Now that’s fun.


McCain’s Private Visit With Chilean Dictator Pinochet Revealed for First Time October 26, 2008

Posted by rogerhollander in John McCain, Latin America, U.S. Election 2008.
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John Dinges, Huffington Post, October 24, 2008

John McCain, who has harshly criticized the idea of sitting down with dictators without pre-conditions, appears to have done just that. In 1985, McCain traveled to Chile for a friendly meeting with Chile’s military ruler, General Augusto Pinochet, one of the world’s most notorious violators of human rights credited with killing more than 3,000 civilians and jailing tens of thousands of others.

The private meeting between McCain and dictator Pinochet has gone previously un-reported anywhere.

According to a declassified U.S. Embassy cable secured by The Huffington Post, McCain described the meeting with Pinochet “as friendly and at times warm, but noted that Pinochet does seem obsessed with the threat of communism.” McCain, a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee at the time, made no public or private statements critical of the dictatorship, nor did he meet with members of the democratic opposition in Chile, as far as could be determined from a thorough check of U.S. and Chilean newspaper records and interviews with top opposition leaders.

At the time of the meeting, in the late afternoon of December 30, the U.S. Justice Department was seeking the extradition of two close Pinochet associates for an act of terrorism in Washington DC, the 1976 assassination of former ambassador to the U.S. and former Foreign Minister Orlando Letelier. The car bombing on Sheridan Circle in the U.S. capital was widely described at the time as the most egregious act of international terrorism perpetrated on U.S. soil by a foreign power.

At the time of McCain’s meeting with Pinochet, Chile’s democratic opposition was desperately seeking support from democratic leaders around the world in an attempt to pressure Pinochet to allow a return to democracy and force a peaceful end to the dictatorship, already in its 12th year. Other U.S. congressional leaders who visited Chile made public statements against the dictatorship and in support of a return to democracy, at times becoming the target of violent pro-Pinochet demonstrations.

Senator Edward Kennedy arrived only 12 days after McCain in a highly public show of support for democracy. Demonstrators pelted his entourage with eggs and blocked the road from the airport, so that the Senator had to be transported by helicopter to the city, where he met with Catholic church and human rights leaders and large groups of opposition activists.

Mark Schneider, a foreign policy aide and former State Department human rights official who organized Kennedy’s trip, said he had no idea McCain had been there only days before. “It would be very surprising and disappointing if Senator McCain went to Chile to meet with a dictator and did not forcefully demand a return to democracy and then to publicly call for a return to democracy,” Schneider said.

McCain’s visit with Pinochet took place at a moment when the Chilean strongman held virtually unrestricted dictatorial power and those involved in public, democratic opposition were exposed to great risk.

McCain’s presence in Chile was apparently kept as quiet as possible. He and his wife Cindy arrived December 27 and traveled immediately to the scenic Puyehue area of southern Chile to spend several days as the guest of a prominent Pinochet backer, Marco Cariola, who later was elected senator for the conservative UDI party.

The trip was arranged by Chile’s ambassador to the United States, Hernan Felipe Errazuriz. According to a contemporary government document obtained from Chile, Errazuriz arranged for a special government liaison to help McCain while in Chile for the “strictly private” visit, and described him as “one of the conservative congressmen who is closest to our embassy.”

Errazuriz also arranged the invitation for the McCains to stay at the farm of his wealthy friend, Marco Cariola, according to Cariola, who did not know McCain previously. The McCains spent the three and a half days fishing for salmon and trout and riding horses. The area is one of Chile’s most beautiful tourist attractions, with dozens of crystal clear lakes and rivers surrounded by luxurious estates such as the Cariola farm where the McCains were staying.

On December 30, McCain traveled back to Santiago for a 5 pm meeting with dictator Pinochet, followed by a meeting with Admiral Jose Toribio Merino, a member of the country’s ruling military junta.

McCain’s meeting with Pinochet in 1985 are described in a U.S. embassy cable, based on McCain’s debriefing with embassy officials:

“Most of his 30-minute meeting with the president, at which foreign minister [Jaime] Del Valle and a ministry staff member were present, was spent in discussing the dangers of communism, a subject about which the president seems obsessed. The President described Chile’s recent history in the fight against communism and displayed considerable pride in the fact that the communist menace had been defeated in Chile. The President stressed that Chile had stood alone in this battle, and complained that United States Foreign Policy had left them stranded. The congressman added that talking to Pinochet was somewhat similar to talking with the head of the John Birch Society.”

Other than to describe the warmth of the encounter, the cable does not contain any account of what McCain said to Pinochet. There is no indication that the subject of human rights or return to democracy was raised with Pinochet. At this time in history, Pinochet was overtly ostracized by most world democratic leaders because of his refusal to move toward a restoration of democratic, civilian rule.

A second declassified U.S. diplomatic cable refers to a letter from then-U.S. Ambassador Harry Barnes giving further detail of McCain’s meeting with Pinochet.

From his meeting with junta member Merino, however, McCain passed on an tidbit of political intelligence that the embassy found useful. “The most interesting part of the conversation, according to the congressman, was Merino’s statement that he and other members of the Junta had recently told Pinochet that he should not expect any support from the junta if he should decide to be a candidate for president in 1989.”

In fact, three years later Pinochet was defeated in a plebiscite in which he was the only candidate, and free elections a year later restored democratic government. A healthy list of U.S. congressmen traveled to Chile in support of the transition to democracy, including Republican Senator Richard Lugar. McCain, by then a first term senator, did not return to Chile.
In addition to the Chilean document and the U.S. cable cited above, at least four other declassified documents refer to McCain’s meeting with Pinochet and his interest in Chile.

McCain campaign press office said no one was available to comment on the story.

Former ambassador Errazuriz, reached by phone, said repeatedly “it is not true” that McCain met with Pinochet, that he would have known about it if it had, and that the state Department cable was possibly a fabrication.

On September 11, 1973, Army General Pinochet led a bloody coup that overthrew the democratically elected government of President Salvador Allende. The four-man military junta that seized power bombed the presidential palace, padlocked the congress, outlawed all political activity and actively persecuted its opponents. Pinochet remained in power until 1990 and in 2006 he was charged with 36 counts of kidnapping, 23 counts of torture and one count of murder. He was spared a trial for health reasons and died at age 91 in December 2006.

Alaskas Largest Newspaper Endorses Barack Obama October 26, 2008

Posted by rogerhollander in Barack Obama, John McCain, Sarah Palin, U.S. Election 2008.
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Of course they’re endorsing Obama.  They’ve lived with Palin.  They know her.  They realize McCain’s huge mistake.

October 26, 2008

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — The Anchorage Daily News, Alaska’s largest newspaper, has endorsed Sen. Barack Obama for president.

The newspaper said Sunday the Democrat “brings far more promise to the office. In a time of grave economic crisis, he displays thoughtful analysis, enlists wise counsel and operates with a cool, steady hand.”

The Daily News said since the economic crisis has emerged, Republican presidential candidate John McCain has “stumbled and fumbled badly” in dealing with it.

“Of the two candidates, Sen. Obama better understands the mortgage meltdown’s root causes and has the judgment and intelligence to shape a solution, as well as the leadership to rally the country behind it,” the paper said.

The Daily News said Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin has shown the country why she is a success as governor. But the paper said few would argue that Palin is truly ready to step into the job of being president despite her passion, charisma and strong work ethic.

“Gov. Palin’s nomination clearly alters the landscape for Alaskans as we survey this race for the presidency — but it does not overwhelm all other judgment. The election, after all is said and done, is not about Sarah Palin, and our sober view is that her running mate, Sen. John McCain, is the wrong choice for president at this critical time for our nation,” the paper said.

“Like picking Sen. McCain for president, putting her one 72-year-old heartbeat from the leadership of the free world is just too risky at this time,” the paper concluded.

Stop the Raids in the First 100 Days October 26, 2008

Posted by rogerhollander in Barack Obama, George W. Bush, John McCain, Latin America, Political Commentary.
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by: David Bacon, t r u t h o u t | Perspective, October 26, 2008

Citizens of Postville, Iowa, march for immigrant and worker rights after a federal raid of the Agriprocessors meat-packing plant resulted in the arrest of 388 workers. (Photo: AP)



    The first of the 388 workers arrested in the immigration raid on the Agriprocessors meatpacking plant in Postville, Iowa, were deported last week, having spent five months in federal prison. Their crime? Giving a bad Social Security number to the company to get hired. Among them will be a young man who had his eyes covered with duct tape by a supervisor on the line, who then beat him with a meathook. The supervisor is still on the job.

    Postville was one of the many recent immigration raids leading to criminal charges and deportations for thousands of people. Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff calls this “closing the back door.” Meanwhile, his department seeks to “open the front door” by establishing new guest worker programs called “close to slavery” by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

    Something is clearly wrong with the priorities of immigration enforcement. Hungry and desperate workers go to jail and get deported. The government protects employers and seeks to turn a family-based immigration system into their managed labor supply. Yet national political campaigns say less and less about it. Immigrant Latino and Asian communities feel increasingly afraid and frustrated. Politicians want their votes, but avoid talking about the rising wave of arrests, imprisonment and deportations.

    This month, national demonstrations across the nation are protesting the silence, asking candidates to speak out. Immigrant communities expect a new deal from a new administration, especially from Democrats. They want a new president to take swift and decisive action to give human rights a priority over fear, and recognize immigrants as people, not just a source of cheap labor.

    In its first 100 days, a new administration could take these simple steps to benefit immigrants and working families:

• Stop Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) from seeking serious federal criminal charges, with incarceration in privately run prisons, for lacking papers or for bad Social Security numbers.

• Stop raiding workplaces, especially where workers are trying to organize unions or enforce wage and hour laws. This would help all workers, not just immigrants, to raise low wages.

• Double the paltry 742 federal inspectors responsible for all US wage and hour violations, and focus on industries where immigrants are concentrated. The National Labor Relations Board could target employers who use immigration threats to violate union rights.

• Halt community sweeps, where agents use warrants for one or two people to detain and deport dozens of others. End the government’s campaign to repeal local sanctuary ordinances, and to drag local law enforcement into immigration raids.

• Allow all workers to apply for a Social Security number and pay legally into the system that benefits everyone. Social Security numbers should be used for their true purpose – paying retirement and disability benefits – not to fire immigrants from their jobs and send them to prison.

• Reestablish worker protections ended under Bush on existing guest worker programs, force employers to hire domestically first, and decertify any contractor guilty of labor violations.

• Restore human rights in border communities, stop construction of the border wall between the US and Mexico, and disband the Operation Streamline federal court, where scores of young border crossers are sent to prison in chains every day.

    After the first 100 days, Democrats will have to decide what reforms to bring before Congress, and when. Some would delay action for a year or more. But the US Chamber of Commerce and dozens of trade groups will not sit on their hands. They have been pushing for years for big guest worker programs, more raids and enforcement, and a weak legalization program. Many immigrant and labor rights activists want an alternative, and advocate three steps toward a more progressive reform:

1. A moratorium on raids, while protecting human and labor rights, in the first 100 days.

2. Introduce a bill to give green card visas to the undocumented, and clear up the backlog of people already waiting for them. If more visas are more easily available abroad, people won’t have to cross the border without them. That bill should also create jobs in unemployed communities, repeal employer sanctions laws that make work a crime for immigrants, and pass labor law reform to protect workers’ rights. Guest worker programs with a record of abuse should be ended, as they were in 1964.

3. Change trade policy and renegotiate agreements like NAFTA, so they stop causing poverty and uprooting communities, making migration peoples’ only alternative for survival. Defeat new trade agreements with countries like Colombia, which will cause job loss in the US and spread low wages, labor violations and displacement abroad. US tax dollars, instead of being spent on war in Iraq, could expand rural credit, education and healthcare in Mexico and other countries, easing the pressure behind migration.

    There is a common ground between immigrants, African-Americans and other communities of color, unions, churches, civil rights organizations and working families generally. Legalization and immigrant rights, tied to guaranteeing jobs for all working families, can bring people together. All workers, including immigrants, need the right to organize and enforce labor standards – the same goal sought by unions in the Employee Free Choice Act. Changing trade policy will benefit working class communities in the US, while helping the families of immigrants back home from Oaxaca to El Salvador.

    The diverse communities who need these reforms can and will find ways to seek them together. In fact, if Barack Obama and a larger Democratic majority in Congress gain office in November, they will owe their victory to this coalition.

    After the election, this same coalition will need jobs and rights. But immigrant workers are going to jail now. The wave of raids continues to divide families, even as candidates hold rallies and ask for votes. In Los Angeles’ Placita Olvera, activists have begun a hunger strike to stop the deportations. Marches and demonstrations are making the same point from coast to coast.

    Promises of change are not enough. For candidates who want working-class votes, the first step is to speak out.


David Bacon is a California photojournalist who documents labor, migration and globalization. His book “Communities Without Borders” was just published by Cornell University/ILR Press.

The Case Against the Continued Occupation and Escalation of the War in Afghanistan October 26, 2008

Posted by rogerhollander in Barack Obama, Iraq and Afghanistan, John McCain, U.S. Election 2008.
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by: Camillo “Mac” Bica, t r u t h o u t | Perspective

A soldier pays his respects to a fallen soldier at the Korengal Outpost in the Kunar Province of eastern Afghanistan. (Photo: Getty Images)



    Despite some subtle nuances regarding a timetable for the phased withdrawal of at least a portion of the combat troops from Iraq,(1) the positions of both John McCain and Barack Obama regarding the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are quite similar. Under both their plans, American young men and women, despite their eventually being withdrawn from Iraq – “with honor” for McCain, “responsibly” for Obama – will not be returning home but, rather, redeployed to another battlefield upon which to continue to kill or be killed. Both candidates have promised a surge in Afghanistan, and a commitment to continue the “war on terrorism” until our enemies, al-Qaeda, the Taliban, perhaps Iran, are defeated and Osama Bin Laden is killed or captured. Consequently, while promising the American people real change from the politics of gunboat diplomacy and militarism of the last eight years, all we are truly being offered by either candidate is more of the same.

    From One Quagmire to the Next

    As of this writing, even many of the Iraq war’s most ardent and outspoken critics, Iraq Veterans Against the War, Military Families Speak Out, Code Pink,(2) to name only a few, while generally condemning unnecessary war and demanding better treatment for veterans, have remained curiously silent on the continued occupation and escalation of the war in Afghanistan. I believe this is due in part to an acceptance of the Iraq war as a diversion from pursuing, in Afghanistan, those who were truly responsible for the attacks of September 11. As a result, the American public has been lulled, perhaps even seduced, into an acceptance, without analysis or debate, of Afghanistan as the “good” war, necessary for our national security, and the right front upon which to wage the war against terrorism.

    This mindset has allowed both presidential candidates to promise not to end war in the Middle East, but merely to replace one quagmire and unwinnable war with another. The only discussion being whether to have a timetable for redeployment from Iraq or to redeploy based upon “conditions on the ground.” Tragically, what remains unquestioned is whether we should be fighting in Afghanistan at all.

    Historical Precedent

    Upon analysis, enough historical precedent exists, from Alexander the Great to the Soviet Union, from which to conclude that wars of occupation in Afghanistan are unwinnable. In August 1978, the Soviet Union deployed 160,000 troops in Afghanistan. Despite being strengthened by 200,000 soldiers of the Afghan Communist army, this impressive force was unable to crush the Pashtun resistance. While it may be true, in the current struggle, that the Taliban lacks the support and guidance of the CIA, there is no shortage of money and arms, thanks to their liaison with drug farmers and smugglers. Further, with the Middle East in turmoil and the appearance of a global war, not against terrorism but against Islam, eager Jihadist recruits are readily available to replenish the ranks of the Afghan resistance.

    Afghanistan Is Not the Good War

    War is presumptively wrong. It requires justification, and the burden of proof is theirs who would unleash its horror and destruction upon humankind. The invasion and occupation of Afghanistan, upon analysis, fails to satisfy the legal and moral criteria for a good – a just – war for several reasons.

  • First, neither the Taliban nor the Afghan people attacked the United States. Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda allegedly did, both of whom, incidentally, were financed and trained by the CIA. 
  • Second, citizens of a nation do not forfeit their right of territorial integrity and political sovereignty, nor become liable to be targeted and killed, because of the actions of a relatively few who train and strategize from remote areas within their national boundaries. Hence, the necessary criterion of just cause is not satisfied. 
  • Third, civilians are being killed in increasing numbers by NATO forces. Nearly 1,445 Afghan civilians were killed from January to August 2008 (an increase of over 39 percent from the same time period last year). Consequently, warfare in Afghanistan violates the necessary criterion, the moral and legal requirement, of noncombatant immunity. 
  • Fourth, the United States is not empowered to bomb or conduct military incursions within the borders – to violate the territorial integrity – of a sovereign nation to pursue those they deem terrorists without the permission, or against the will, of its legitimate government.
  •     Afghanistan Is Not in Our National Interest

        An analysis of the state of our military, of our economy and of conditions on the ground in Afghanistan clearly establishes that continuing the occupation and escalation of the war is not in our national interest.

  • First, before resigning as chairmen of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Peter Pace conducted a review of our nation’s total combat readiness (including active units, Reserves and National Guard). He concluded that after years of combat operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, there has been an overall decline in our military readiness. That is, our military is stretched to its breaking point. Were our nation confronted with another crisis, our military would be incapable of responding effectively.(3
  • Second, without reinstituting the draft, continued occupation and escalation would require a continuation of the unacceptable Iraq war practices of multiple deployments of exhausted troops with inadequate down time, stop-loss measures and the continued federalization of the National Guard. Such violations of the fairness principle of shared sacrifice would further exacerbate war’s impact upon members of our military. That is, besides the obvious increase in deaths and injuries, the frequency and severity of psychological casualties, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, alcoholism, drug abuse and suicide in our returning veterans would increase dramatically. 
  • Third, with the cost of the war on terrorism expected to exceed $3 trillion (4) and our economy teetering on the verge of collapse, continuing the occupation and escalating the war in Afghanistan would be economic suicide and playing into the hands of the terrorists. Osama bin Laden writes:
  •     All that we have to do is to send two mujahedeen to the farthest point east to raise a piece of cloth on which is written al-Qaeda, in order to make generals race there to cause America to suffer human, economic and political losses without their achieving anything of note other than some benefits for their private corporations … We are continuing this policy in bleeding America to the point of bankruptcy. Allah willing, and nothing is too great for Allah.” (5)

        There is No Military Solution to the Afghan Crisis

        Increasingly, there are indications that NATO leaders have themselves begun to question whether the current use of military force in Afghanistan will fare any better than previous invasions and occupations. Britain’s senior military commander in Afghanistan, Brigadier Mark Carleton-Smith, recently admitted that a military victory over the Taliban was “neither feasible nor supportable.” The best that could be hoped for, Carleton-Smith adds, is “to contain the insurgency to a level where it is not a strategic threat to the longevity of the elected Government.” (6) France’s military chief, Gen. Jean-Louis Georgelin, told French television on October 8 that “there is no military solution to the Afghan crisis.” (7) Gen. Dan McNeill, former commander of the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan, admits that, according to US doctrine regarding counterinsurgency warfare, over 400,000 troops would be necessary to have a chance for success in Afghanistan. (8) Recently, Adm. Michael Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told Congress that “I’m not convinced we’re winning it in Afghanistan … Absent a broader international and interagency approach to the problems there,” he continued, “it is my professional opinion that no amount of troops in no amount of time can ever achieve all the objectives we seek in Afghanistan.” (10) Leaks from the still classified National Intelligence Estimate describe the situation in Afghanistan as in a “downward spiral” and cast doubt on whether the Karzai government will be able to stem the rise in Taliban influence. [10] Even Gen. David Petraeus, architect of the allegedly successful strategy in Iraq, recognizes that Afghanistan is not Iraq. It is a far more primitive society, whose people are stridently independent and resistant to the possibility of any central government. Petreaus warned that Afghanistan was going to be the longest campaign of the long war. (11)


        What is advertised as the pursuit of Bin Laden and al-Qaeda in Afghanistan is, in reality, an unnecessary and unwarranted war against the Taliban and the Pashtun tribes that inhabit the borders of Afghanistan and Pakistan. Certainly, it is true that the Middle East, perhaps even the world, would be a safer place were Afghanistan stable and secure. However, winning the war against terrorism and gaining peace in Afghanistan is not about escalating violence, increasing the number of troops and dropping more and larger bombs. It is not about searching out and destroying al-Qaeda and the Taliban, or even capturing and killing Bin Laden. Rather, it is about inclusiveness, diplomacy, understanding and dialogue. It is about doing the difficult work of reconciliation and of addressing the grievances that nourish radicalism. It is about resolving, reasonably and fairly, the conflicts in Iraq, Kashmir and Palestine. Most importantly, I believe, it is about recognizing that the days of US unilateralism and imperialism are over and realizing the necessity of involving and soliciting the assistance of area powers such as Iran, Russia, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, China and India.

        By any measure, therefore, continuing and escalating the war in Afghanistan is misguided and, given the state of the US economy and of our military, a sacrifice this nation cannot endure. Sometimes winning at all costs is not wise, just or moral. I urge all Americans, therefore, to educate themselves about Afghanistan and remind those who stand for peace that to express opposition to the continued occupation and escalation does not in any way undercut the credibility of opposing the war in Iraq. What it does is recognize that every war must be subject to scrutiny and moral and legal evaluation. We must stand united, therefore, and demand that our future leaders abandon the failed policies of the last eight years, the myth that Afghanistan is the “good” war, and their plans to replace one quagmire with another condemning our sons, daughters and the Afghan people to the continued horror of another unwinnable, immoral and endless war.

        (1) Even under the Obama plan, significant numbers of support troops will remain in Iraq. Richard Danzig, who is regarded as a likely choice for secretary of defense in an Obama administration, has estimated that 30,000 to 55,000 troops would be required.

        (2) In an article for Huffington Post, Code Pink co-founder Medet Benjamin acknowledges that the peace movement needs a strategy for Afghanistan. Perhaps this acknowlegdment will eventually translate into a Code Pink commitment to ending the war in Afghanistan.

        (3) Report: U.S. Military Readiness Worsens.

        (4) The Three Trillion Dollar War.

        (5) Bin Laden: Goal is to bankrupt U.S.

        (6) We can’t defeat Taliban, says Brigadier Mark Carleton-Smith.

        (7) French army chief agrees Afghanistan “cannot be won.”

        (8) The Taliban Kill More Civilians than NATO.

        (9) “Grim” Afghanistan Report to Be Kept Secret by US.

        (10) US Study Is Said to Warn of Crisis in Afghanistan.

        (11) Petraeus Offers Words of Caution on Iraq, Afghanistan Outlook


    Camillo “Mac” Bica, Ph.D., is a professor of philosophy at the School of Visual Arts in New York City. His focus is in ethics, particularly as it applies to war and warriors. As a veteran recovering from his experiences as a United States Marine Corps officer during the Vietnam War, he founded and coordinated for five years the Veterans Self-Help Initiative, a therapeutic community of veterans suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. He is a long-time activist for peace and justice, a member of the Vietnam Veterans Against the War, and coordinator of the Long Island Chapter of Veterans for Peace. Articles by Dr. Bica have appeared in Cyrano’s Journal, The Humanist Magazine, Znet, Truthout.org, Common Dreams, AntiWar.com, Monthly Review Zine, Foreign Policy in Focus, OpEdNews.com and numerous philosophical journals.

    Palin’s ‘going rogue,’ McCain Aide Says October 25, 2008

    Posted by rogerhollander in John McCain, Sarah Palin, U.S. Election 2008.
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    From Dana Bash, Peter Hamby and John King CNN

    ALBUQUERQUE, New Mexico (CNN) — With 10 days until Election Day, long-brewing tensions between GOP vice presidential candidate Gov. Sarah Palin and key aides to Sen. John McCain have become so intense, they are spilling out in public, sources say.

    Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin speaks at a rally in Sioux City, Iowa, on Saturday.

    Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin speaks at a rally in Sioux City, Iowa, on Saturday.

    Several McCain advisers have suggested to CNN that they have become increasingly frustrated with what one aide described as Palin “going rogue.”

    A Palin associate, however, said the candidate is simply trying to “bust free” of what she believes was a damaging and mismanaged roll-out.

    McCain sources say Palin has gone off-message several times, and they privately wonder whether the incidents were deliberate. They cited an instance in which she labeled robocalls — recorded messages often used to attack a candidate’s opponent — “irritating” even as the campaign defended their use. Also, they pointed to her telling reporters she disagreed with the campaign’s decision to pull out of Michigan.

    A second McCain source says she appears to be looking out for herself more than the McCain campaign.

    “She is a diva. She takes no advice from anyone,” said this McCain adviser. “She does not have any relationships of trust with any of us, her family or anyone else.

    “Also, she is playing for her own future and sees herself as the next leader of the party. Remember: Divas trust only unto themselves, as they see themselves as the beginning and end of all wisdom.”

    A Palin associate defended her, saying that she is “not good at process questions” and that her comments on Michigan and the robocalls were answers to process questions.

    But this Palin source acknowledged that Palin is trying to take more control of her message, pointing to last week’s impromptu news conference on a Colorado tarmac.

    Tracey Schmitt, Palin’s press secretary, was urgently called over after Palin wandered over to the press and started talking. Schmitt tried several times to end the unscheduled session.

    “We acknowledge that perhaps she should have been out there doing more,” a different Palin adviser recently said, arguing that “it’s not fair to judge her off one or two sound bites” from the network interviews.

    The Politico reported Saturday on Palin’s frustration, specifically with McCain advisers Nicolle Wallace and Steve Schmidt. They helped decide to limit Palin’s initial press contact to high-profile interviews with Charlie Gibson of ABC and Katie Couric of CBS, which all McCain sources admit were highly damaging.

    In response, Wallace e-mailed CNN the same quote she gave the Politico: “If people want to throw me under the bus, my personal belief is that the most honorable thing to do is to lie there.”

    But two sources, one Palin associate and one McCain adviser, defended the decision to keep her press interaction limited after she was picked, both saying flatly that she was not ready and that the missteps could have been a lot worse.

    They insisted that she needed time to be briefed on national and international issues and on McCain’s record.

    “Her lack of fundamental understanding of some key issues was dramatic,” said another McCain source with direct knowledge of the process to prepare Palin after she was picked. The source said it was probably the “hardest” to get her “up to speed than any candidate in history.”

    Schmitt came to the back of the plane Saturday to deliver a statement to traveling reporters: “Unnamed sources with their own agenda will say what they want, but from Gov. Palin down, we have one agenda, and that’s to win on Election Day.”

    Yet another senior McCain adviser lamented the public recriminations.

    “This is what happens with a campaign that’s behind; it brings out the worst in people, finger-pointing and scapegoating,” this senior adviser said.

    This adviser also decried the double standard, noting that Democratic nominee Sen. Barack Obama‘s running mate, Sen. Joe Biden, has gone off the reservation as well, most recently by telling donors at a fundraiser that America’s enemies will try to “test” Obama.

    Tensions like those within the McCain-Palin campaign are not unusual; vice presidential candidates also have a history of butting heads with the top of the ticket.

    John Edwards and his inner circle repeatedly questioned Sen. John Kerry’s strategy in 2004, and Kerry loyalists repeatedly aired in public their view that Edwards would not play the traditional attack dog role with relish because he wanted to protect his future political interests.

    Even in a winning campaign like Bill Clinton’s, some of Al Gore’s aides in 1992 and again in 1996 questioned how Gore was being scheduled for campaign events.

    Jack Kemp’s aides distrusted the Bob Dole camp and vice versa, and Dan Quayle loyalists had a list of gripes remarkably similar to those now being aired by Gov. Palin’s aides.

    With the presidential race in its final days and polls suggesting that McCain’s chances of pulling out a win are growing slim, Palin may be looking after her own future.

    “She’s no longer playing for 2008; she’s playing 2012,” Democratic pollster Peter Hart said. “And the difficulty is, when she went on ‘Saturday Night Live,’ she became a reinforcement of her caricature. She never allowed herself to be vetted, and at the end of the day, voters turned against her both in terms of qualifications and personally.”

    The Exodus Continues October 25, 2008

    Posted by rogerhollander in Barack Obama, John McCain, U.S. Election 2008.
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    Tony Campbell, 10/24/08


    In the wake of Colin Powell’s endorsement of Senator Barack Obama last Sunday I wrote the following statement:

    “My gut feeling is that there will be a significant number of moderate Republicans who will endorse Obama over the next week or so.

    Four hours later, I wrote this update after Ken Adelman announced he was voting for Obama.

    “Ken Adelman is a bonafide Conservative. If he is able to vote for Obama, then the exodus is just beginning…”

    Scott McClellan, Bush’s former press secretary has announced that he is going to vote for Obama. McClellan stated that he is supporting Obama because he has “a message that is very similar to the one that Gov. Bush ran on in 2000.” How ’bout them apples? W’s “Compassionate Conservatism” meets O’s “The Change We Need”.

    Another former G.O.P. office holder, Minnesota ex-Governor Arne Carlson, endorsed Obama after Powell’s announcement. Obama’s last major hurdle is to win the endorsement of a sitting Republican member of Congress. It has long been rumored that Senator Chuck Hagel may break from the pack to support Obama or perhaps Senator Richard Lugar (Indiana) may support Obama based on his direction for U.S. foreign policy.

    My prediction: By Sunday, a sitting member of Congress from the Republican Party will endorse Obama. If that occurs, all bets are off as far as a landslide victory for Obama on November 4th…as the Republican Exodus Continues…

    By the way, on a lighter note, when did D.L. Hughley get a news program? If an Obama presidency means that he and David Alan Grier are allowed to get their own shows…I might have to vote for Bob Barr or Ron Paul.

    Yet Another Republican Jumps Ship October 25, 2008

    Posted by rogerhollander in Barack Obama, John McCain, U.S. Election 2008.
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    What Motivates Me to Support Barack Obama

    While my crystal ball may be no clearer than anyone else’s, I am sure that we need to choose a President who exemplifies the 21st Century and is not just an echo of the Cold War mentality.  I personally admire John McCain, but I simply cannot see him inspiring the nation and our world economic partners to work together and solve our very daunting problems.  My Obama support-decision matrix includes the characteristics of Judgment, Temperament, Charisma, Intellect, Adaptability, Virtue, Vision, Traditional Republican Values, and dedication to “Main Street.”  Barack Obama is without question the superior choice for me based on my analysis below.  

    Temperament:  Inside and out of the next administration, the next president needs a personality and disposition that does not inflame problems, but intelligently resolves them.

    Charisma:  Is there any question?

    Intellect:  Obama finished at the top of his class at Harvard while McCain finished very close to the bottom of his class at Annapolis; if there is doubt, listen to each of them respond to a complex question.

    Adaptability:  I measure this characteristic by a person’s ability and willingness to compromise to achieve a solution to a problem

    Virtue:  Obama’s choice to serve his Chicago community and forego lucrative options to apply his acknowledged skills, speaks volumes about his character.

    Vision:  I see Obama’s view of the world as deep and nuanced to reflect reality as opposed to ideology.  I am particularly enthusiastic about his plans for converting to clean energy, improving our environment, and encouraging national service.

    Judgment:  Obama sees the world in wide angle and Technicolor, as suggested by his views on Iraq, Afghanistan, Cuba, Russia, Iran, Venezuela, North Korea, etc.  Even the Bush administration is beginning to use some of the diplomatic tools Obama has long been discussing.

    Traditional Republican Values:  Republican Presidents from Lincoln through Ford were strong advocates for equal rights, balancing labor and business, consumer protection, protecting the environment,  a humble but vigorous foreign policy, promoting peace through strength,  fiscal integrity, and unafraid of great challenges.  A traditional Republican would never condone torture or cruel and inhuman treatment of prisoners regardless of circumstances.  Dwight D. Eisenhower probably embodied these traits as well as any Republican President; I see Barack Obama in the same vein, although arguably even more inspirational.

    Main Street Values:  America is comprised mostly of folks from “main street” who earn their wages, work in their communities, raise their families, and aspire to create a better world for their children.  Barack Obama has worn the shoes of main street.  His values and success are derived, not from privilege or position, but through real life experience, hard work, and commitment to his ideals and family. 

    The opportunity to elect such a leader does not come around often; I hope that America does not squander this opportunity!

    Joel Haugen is the Republican Party’s candidate in Oregon’s 1st Congressional district.  

    More Republicans Join Stampede to Abandon McCain October 25, 2008

    Posted by rogerhollander in Barack Obama, John McCain, U.S. Election 2008.
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    by: Ewen MacAskill, The Guardian UK

    Scott McClellan, former White House Press Secretary for George W. Bush, has endorsed Barack Obama for president. (Photo: Reuters)



     Washington – Joel Haugen, a Republican fighting a tough congressional race against the Democrats in Oregon, has fallen out with his party. The reason: his surprise endorsement of Barack Obama for the presidency.

        “I believe in putting nation before party and my first priority is following my conscience with regard to what is best for America,” Haugen said in a statement issued by his office today. “I have a huge amount of respect for John McCain, but I believe that he has more of a cold war mentality.”

        Haugen is just one of many Republican politicians, dubbed “Obamicans”, who have defected to Obama. The latest high-profile desertions include Scott McClellan, George Bush’s former press secretary, who endorses Obama in a taped CNN programme to be broadcast this weekend, and William Weld, the Republican governor of Massachusetts from 1991 to 1997.

        Weld, in a statement released today ahead of a press conference in New Hampshire, described Obama as “a once-in-a-lifetime candidate.”

        Last weekend, Bush’s former secretary of state, Colin Powell, Obama’s biggest Republican catch so far, publicly backed the Democratic candidate.

        It is unusual to see so many prominent Republican politicians and columnists shift, even allowing for the fact that party affiliations are more fluid in the US than Europe.

        The ‘Obamicans’ have their own website, listing those who have endorsed Obama and exchanging views. Campaign paraphernalia is also available from Barack Obama’s team that includes a “Republicans for Obama” button badge.

        According to Haugen’s campaign manager, Sarah Tiedeman, he made no secret of his views while fighting for the party nomination, telling the press about his unhappiness with Bush’s eight years in office and that he was likely to endorse Obama over McCain. He won 70% of the nomination vote.

        The Republican party became increasingly “unfriendly”, Tiedemann said, and has since withdrawn all financial support.

        Haugen, as a compromise, is now standing under an independent banner, though he remains a registered Republican. Tiedemann said the reaction among Republicans over his endorsement was mixed. She acknowledged it was “unusual” to make such an endorsement but Haugen “feels the Republican party has got so far from its roots.”

        Other defectors include Arne Carlson, the Republican governor of Minnesota from 1991 to 1999, who wrote in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune yesterday: “The choice of governor Sarah Palin as a running mate, and the resultant shallow campaign based on fear and suspicion, looks frighteningly similar to the politics of Karl Rove [Bush’s campaign strategist].”

        He described Obama as having “the potential to become a truly great president”.

        McClellan, who published a book earlier this year critical of the Bush administration, accusing it of lying, told CNN he would vote for Obama because he offered the best chance of changing the way Washington works.

        The founders of Republicans for Obama include a former Iowa congressman, Jim Leach; a former Rhode Island senator, Lincoln Chafee, and a former Bush fund-raiser, Rita Hauser.

        Another defector this week is Ken Adelman, a foreign policy adviser to Ronald Reagan, who told the New Yorker he would endorse Obama because of McCain’s temperament, describing as weird his behaviour in response when the economic meltdown began.

    Why Some Conservatives Will Vote for Barack Obama October 25, 2008

    Posted by rogerhollander in Barack Obama, John McCain, U.S. Election 2008.
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    From Tony Campbel’s Blog, 7/14/08

    Thomas Sowell, in his piece “Conservatives for Obama?” made the following statement:

    “A number of friends of mine have commented on an odd phenomenon that they have observed– conservative Republicans they know who are saying that they are going to vote for Barack Obama. It seemed at first to be an isolated fluke, perhaps signifying only that my friends know some strange conservatives. But apparently columnist Robert Novak has encountered the same phenomenon and has coined the term ‘Obamacons’ to describe the conservatives for Senator Obama.”

    For the esteemed Mr. Sowell, whom I read a lot, and other folks who are scratching their collective heads over why Conservatives will vote for Obama over McCain in November, here are a few reasons for you to consider:

    1. Reorganizing our National Security apparatus – Since the passing of the Patriot Act, America has restructured its intelligence and national security procedures to prevent another terrorist attack. Conservatives understand the need for surveillance methods to prevent another attack on the American people and our property; however, not all of them support the use of fear to systematically change the social contract between the government and the people regarding their civil liberties under the law. They would, however, support a reexamination of segments of the Patriot Act that would re-establish the proper bounds between government need and individual liberty.
    2. Immigration Reform – Over the past two decades our borders have become porous and that lack of attention has threatened our national security. Conservatives understand that many of these non-documented visitors are hardworking people who currently serve in many important aspects of the American economy. It is neither feasible, nor in the country’s best economic interest, to seek to deport millions of people who contribute to our fiscal and social vibrancy as a nation. To do so would require creating a new agency of the national government with thousands of employees to implement this deportation policy. There are Conservatives who feel this type of reactionary policy is short-sighted and centered more on partisanship than in providing a common sense solution. For these individuals, a pragmatic Conservative stand would support a policy that will identify benchmarks to obtain United States citizenship.
    3. Foreign Policy – To ensure a safe America, some Conservatives believe that the primary issue of foreign policy that has to be addressed by the 44th President of the United States is to rebuild a relationship of mutual trust between us and our international allies. America has lost its leadership position in the world over the last six years. This is not only damaging in the relationship with our allies, but also hazardous in our diplomatic maneuverings with countries such as China, Iran and North Korea. A Conservative approach would support a direction of foreign policy that is practical and pragmatic (i.e. Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush). A foreign policy that uses diplomatic, economic and military assets to reach achievable goals on the international stage.
    4. Healthcare – Millions of Americans can not seek preventative healthcare assistance to address the myriad of issues they face on a daily basis. These unchecked health concerns eventually become emergency room visits that help to drive up insurance costs for employers and employees covered under medical plans. A pragmatic Conservative platform would support the development of a voluntary universal healthcare plan that allows flexibility of services and allows for States to meet the needs of their citizens without burdensome and unfunded regulations from Washington, D.C. through our constitutionally mandated federal system of government.
    5. The Economy and the War in Iraq – Under the reasons for establishing a new government, Thomas Jefferson stated that government is charged with protecting “Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” of its citizens. A strong, robust economy falls under the heading of the “pursuit of happiness.” The U.S. has spent in excess of $100 Billion a year on a war that over seventy percent of the American people do not want, representing twenty percent of our annual GDP. Our current economic condition, with rising prices for everything from gas to food coupled with stagnant wages, has only provided a very few people with the ability to pursue happiness. A pragmatic Conservative approach would support a carefully planned disengagement of our troops from Iraq. The financial resources used to pay for the war may be used on a real economic stimulus plan that will be focused on re-training American workers and businesses to be competitive in the global marketplace.

    Some Conservatives have finally realized, after twenty years, that national elections are too critical to waste on partisan rhetoric that does not solve any of the serious problems of our country. Government should focus on strengthening our borders, cutting our debt, and allowing the middle class to prosper by cutting taxes and reduce overall spending. Our elected and appointed officials should let individuals deal with the moral issues surrounding their decisions. Let’s get back to the original idea that the Founders of this Republic birthed– that Government should not mandate the extent of Individual Liberty.